Michelle Marchante/News Director
“If you like the game, play it,” is the advice Victoria Perez, otherwise known as VikkiKitty, the first female eSports commentator for Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., has for women interested playing in the competitive field.
Perez, a junior majoring in broadcast media, entered the competitive gaming industry in early 2015, first in the local South Florida scene before moving to regional, national and recently international. The fighting game community, Perez said, is male-dominated, so it can be intimidating for a woman to join, but this shouldn’t stop them from participating.
“Yes, it can be a bit difficult, but if you like it and you like it enough and you really feel like you can make a difference, go for it,” Perez said to Student Media. “You have nothing to lose.”
Perez has commentated on various different games such as Pokkén Tournament DX, ARMS and Breakaway, a new game currently being created by Amazon, but her main community is Super Smash Bros. South Florida is one of the strongest scenes for Smash Bros., Perez said, but it’s not just a “boy’s game,” and it’s starting to show in the tournaments, as more women are beginning to appear in the scene.
Perez credits this emerging demographic to women like herself and SuperGirlKels, a Sonic player from Quebec, Canada, breaking the community’s glass ceiling.
SGK, for example, has become the Super Smash Bros. best female professional player and is currently sponsored by Red Bull, according to Perez.
Perez continues to be the only female commentator for Smash Bros., but is working to help bring other women onto the scene and is currently advising several different women who are interested in joining the competitive scene. She’s also appeared in a recent local documentary, “Fight Like A Girl,” created by Miami Dade College film alumna Nicole Maldonado and MDC film professor Agustin Gonzalez. The documentary follows the experiences of Perez and two other girls in the Super Smash Bros. tournaments.
Perez also doesn’t just commentate on the games, but plays at every tournament she works at.
“The way I learn as a commentator is by actually playing because there are new techniques found every single week…” Perez said.
Perez had always been a gamer, but had no idea a competitive scene existed until she met her boyfriend at MDC.
“It’s [eSports] like a game of chess,” Perez said. “It requires lot of mental dexterity and seeing your progress in the game really motivates you to get better…”
Since she’s begun her commentating career, Perez has appeared on Disney XD, ESPN, and has been given the opportunity to travel across the country. She also recently went to Germany for her first international gig with Amazon at TheGameCon, an event Perez describes to be larger or equivalent than the U.S. E3 event.
Perez was nervous for GameCon, she said, not just because of the event’s importance, but because it was her first time out of the country. The experience, she said, was worth it, and was an example of how you just have to take a chance.
“Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to be comfortable,” she said.
Working as a commentator while simultaneously attending school can be difficult, but Perez said it all comes down to time management and communication. Tournaments are held on weekends, she said, and she’ll normally be notified a month or two in advance to see if she can commentate. However, she has received a week’s notice before, which is why she always notifies a professor when she plans to be out of town and why she tries to never have class on Mondays or Fridays.
The constant traveling can sometimes be tiring, but Perez loves what she does, especially being able to interact with her fans and the players.
Throughout the different tournaments Perez has worked at, she’s learned how to announce herself as a commentator and how to control her voice to hype up a moment. Commentating, Perez said, is like “telling a story that is unfolding live,” but the most important thing she’s learned is that a commentator is “basically the bridge between selling a player and not.”
eSports are increasing in popularity and companies are beginning to sponsor teams and players, according to Perez, but the first thing they hear about a player is from a commentator. So the commentator, she said, could make or break the sponsorship.
Universities are beginning to enter the eSports scene, like the University of California, and eSports, as The Guardian reports, may even become part of the Olympics as an “official media sport” in 2024.
“It’s all about connections, all about finding out the path you have to take and practicing, just like any physical sport you need to put in the time you need to excel in the game,” she said.
For those interested in staying up-to-date with Perez’s commentating career, they can find her on Twitter @VikkiKitty.
Featured Image retrieved from Victoria Perez’s Instagram.
Video by Maytinee Kramer/PantherNOW.
Select video images were retrieved from the following Flickr accounts: